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You are in a meeting and you hear these two words: ’employee engagement.

Then you hear them again – and you think to yourself – these two words have to mean something – right?

There is so much confusion about employee engagement that we thought a clear, succinct post was in order to explain exactly what employee engagement is, and also why it is important. And we’ve also thrown in a graphic to make the process super easy (we hope!) to understand. But first…

What employee engagement is not

Some of the confusion around the concept of employee engagement happens partly because many HR practitioners use the term loosely without really understanding what it is.

So first it’s important to be clear that employee engagement is not employee satisfaction. It is not simply a ‘smile sheet’ to say how happy an employee is at any time.

What employee engagement is

Employee engagement, properly defined, is a measure of the link between an employee’s ‘say, stay and strive’ to a company’s financials. In other words, it explains the link between an employee’s willingness to…

✓ SAY ‘this is a great company to work for’

✓ STAY at that company, and

✓ STRIVE – or give extra effort for that company – to achieve its strategy or goals

…and in turn, make a positive impact on the company’s financial performance.

Any survey which does not make this connection is not a measure of employee engagement. This distinction is important to understand, since employee satisfaction surveys may give the impression that the role of the manager is that of succeeding in a popularity contest.

And then, as every manager knows, there are KPIs or corporate goals – and these may demand unpopular decisions – with the result typically being one of stress.

Employee engagement, by contrast, already takes this tension into account and thus makes the process of managing easier.

The next question then arises…

How do I discover employee engagement levels in my company?

We are aware that there are plenty of consultancy firms offering their own engagement surveys and their own factors of success. This may confuse the issue further, but please bear with us.

The good news – for readers of this post – is that we have examined all the major employee engagement surveys.

We have done so in order to take out the complexity (which is of no value), and replace it with simplicity (which is of great value), and more importantly – easier to act upon. (Our mantra is that all corporate initiatives need to be simple, specific and strategic).

From our meta-study of all these surveys, there are 9 key factors on 3 different levels that your employee engagement survey absolutely has to identify, as follows:

The 9 key factors of employee engagement

Please see the employee engagement graphic to the right (click here for the employee engagement pdf).

You need to find out the following factors:

Level 1: Organisational Level

Factor 1. Community and Spirit in the company

Factor 2. Mission and Meaning of the company

Factor 3. Tools, equipment, environment and support by the company of its mission

Level 2: Team Level

Factor 4. Recognition & Reward (by a manager)

Factor 5. Communication

Factor 6. Collaboration with colleagues

Level 3: Individual Level

Factor 7. Working in areas of your talent

Factor 8. Career path & opportunities for growth

Factor 9. Role and expectations at work

The employee engagement survey

Your employee engagement survey needs to discover:

· what has actually happened in these areas, and

· what the employee believes has happened in these areas

Finally, the linkage needs to be drawn between the factors and key performance indicators – including everything from absenteeism, staff turnover, quality control, customer engagement among others, to determine areas of focus for managers and the company which ideally would be part of a clearly articulated strategy.

Lastly, and most importantly…

We will go on record that all the above is of lesser importance than the actions of closing the engagement gaps. Our recommendation? Do this on a rolling basis, one factor per month, and sweep each factor through the organization using our 28 Day Later methodology (it takes 28 days to change a habit).

The principle: follow up to follow through.

Stay tuned

We’ll be looking at some of these employee engagement factors in more depth in due course, including providing a useful employee engagement template. To be sure to receive our posts, stay tuned by joining our email list below.

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